Wednesday, April 02, 2008

River Town #4

We're settling into the new abode in the Borough of Yardley, arguably the most flood-prone town in the 13,000 square mile Delaware River Basin. More on that later.

What? You say you can't wait to know? OK. Go here and then come back and read on.

Yardley Borough ranked Numero Uno for flood insurance claims in the Delaware River Basin after the 2005 floods -- that's #1 out of about 150 municipalities in total number of insurance claims; and they dwarf everyone else in total dollars. Yardley came in number 2 for total claims following both 2004 and 2006 respectively -- beat out by Trenton in total number, although Yardley still had higher total dollars.

Maybe this impressive history helps explain why the Mayor here has bought into the bogus "the reservoirs did it" explanation for the inexplicable. He and 10,000 maniacs are sure they know the simple answer to the impertinent question: How could a river flood three times in as many years? Flooding is what a river does when it's had too much to drink (FYI: I am drinking coffee this morning -- albeit a bit too much).

Why did Yardley take it so hard? It's clear to me why they rank so high. I've visited virtually every one of the 150 towns on DRBC's flood claim list. I've never seen any other town with such a high concentration of poorly sited buildings -- many of which were build AFTER the record flood of 1955. There are other contributing factors such as the canal , tributaries, the quaint mill pond, and Yardley is generally lower in elevation than the opposite shore.

So here we are: living in FLOOD CITY. The new apartment is in a massive building along the Delaware Canal, right in the heart of the Borough, well above the floodplain. It's a really pretty, historic canal town with bustling commerce and too much traffic. Just like New Hope and Lambertville, but not that bustling. There are plenty of quality WALKABLE destinations, and plenty of opportunities to spend money and get fat on beer, pastries and pizza. And there is the canal path, which is still in good shape down here. It is a popular place for hikers, dog-walkers and bicyclists. Lots of interesting 18th-19th-20th-century structures to check out. We'll be out there this weekend.

This is either the fourth or fifth Delaware River town that I've resided in depending on whether or not you count Kintnersville as a river town -- I don't. The others are Riegelsville, PA; Stockton, NJ; and Lambertville, NJ, which I consider to be home more than the others by virtue of number of years lived and partied therein. Now that I think about's five river towns. I lived in Philly as a student in the 60's. That's 1960's. Philly is a serious river town since it also includes the Schuylkill River. And I lived for a brief period of time in Norristown...a Schuylkill River town. Then there was New Hampton on the Musconetcong River and Schwenksville along the Perkioment Creek. A life-time of creek and riverside living. Can't beat that with a stick.

I'm looking forward to canoeing this stretch of the river, which is generally flatter than the upriver sections usually frequented. There are some interesting looking islands and of course the falls at Trenton and Scudders Falls. Paddling local is a good thing.

Anyone care to join me?

It's kind of nice to be back in Pennsyltucky, despite all the New Yorkers who have settled around here.